PORTLAND, Maine — Arriving in a limo, Donna Galluzzo and Lisa Gorney had all the trappings of a traditional wedding: Rings, flowers, wedding vows, an entourage and a friend to officiate.

With tears in their eyes, they were among the first gay couples to exchange wedding vows early Saturday after Maine’s same-sex marriage law went into effect at midnight.

“We’re paving the way for people to go after us. I think it’s just amazing. It’s freeing. It’s what’s right,” an emotionally drained Gorney said after their ceremony in front of City Hall.

After waiting years and seeing marriage rights nearly awarded and then retracted, gay couples in Maine’s largest city didn’t have to wait a moment longer than necessary to wed, with licenses issued at the stroke of midnight as the law went into effect.

Fourteen couples received marriage licenses, and five of them married on the spot, a city spokeswoman said. Many who received their marriage license were middle-aged, and some said they never envisioned a day when gay couples could wed just like straight couples.

“I came out years ago and the only thing we wanted was to not get beaten up,” said Steven Jones, 50, who married Jamous Lizotte on his 35th birthday.